Tag Archives: political critics/dissidents

Bahrain News | Dissidents

Bahrain government bars opposition groups from elections
  • The Shura Council, the upper house of Bahrain’s parliament, approved legislation that prevents members of dissolved political groups from participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections.
  • Such groups include al-Wefaq, tied to Bahrain’s politically and economically marginalized Shiite majority, and the National Democratic Action Society (Waad), a secular movement.
  • Last year, courts ordered the dissolution of the two primary opposition groups, arguing that they fostered violence and terrorism in the country.
Read

Bahrain bars members of opposition groups from standing in elections” (Reuters | May 2018)

Bahrain bans members of dissolved parties from running in elections” (Middle East Monitor | February 2018)

Election ban on members of dissolved political societies approved” (Gulf Daily News | April 2018)

Israel News | African Asylum-seekers

Israel announces deportation plan for tens of thousands of African asylum-seekers
  • Some 40,000 African asylum-seekers—many activists and other dissidents from Sudan and Eritrea—are facing expulsion or imprisonment in Israel, with fewer than 1% of applicants having been granted refugee status.
  • The Israeli government announced that asylum-seekers will have 90 days to accept $3,500 and a plane ticket to a classified third country (speculated to be Rwanda or Uganda) or face incarceration.
  • In response, a network of more than a hundred rabbis called the Anne Frank Home Sanctuary Movement has formed and pledged to protect asylum-seekers from deportation.
Read

Israel to tell African migrants: leave or face indefinite imprisonment” (The Guardian | January 2018)

Mass expulsion under way as Israel begins deporting 40,000 Africans” (Middle East Eye | January 2018)

Inspired by Anne Frank, Rabbis in Israel Plan to Hide African Asylum Seekers Facing Deportation” (Haaretz | January 2018)

Read More

Inside Israel’s Secret Program to Get Rid of African Refugees” (Foreign Policy | June 2017)

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The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants

Egypt News | Activists & Dissidents

New NGO law severely curtails capabilities of rights organizations and charities in Egypt
  • President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified a law limiting NGO work to developmental and social work activities and subjecting them to government regulation, with violators facing to up to five years of jail time.
  • NGOs will have one year to come into compliance with the law or be dissolved.
  • Human rights organizations accused the government of attempting to quell dissent, with officials long having accused NGOs of taking foreign money to destabilize national security.
Read

Egypt issues controversial NGO law, cracking down on dissent” (Reuters | May 2017)

The Latest: Egypt’s president ratifies law restricting NGOs” (The Associated Press via ABC News | May 2017)

Egypt’s NGO law aims to ‘erase civil society’” (Al Jazeera | May 2017)

(Image Credit: via Reuters)

Russia News | Dissidents

Hundreds arrested across Russia after thousands take to streets in protest
  • Police reported detaining some 500 protesters in the largest anti-Kremlin demonstrations since 2012, including a Guardian journalist and opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
  • Numbering as high as in the tens of thousands, protesters rallied against government corruption and called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
  • Polls indicate Putin, who enjoys high approval ratings in Russia, is unlikely to be unseated as many expect a bid for a fourth term.
Read

Russian police detain opposition leader, hundreds of protesters” (Reuters | March 2017)

Russia just had its biggest unsanctioned protests in years and hundreds are now in jail” (The Washington Post | March 2017)

Hundreds detained as opposition activists hold protests in several Russian cities” (RT | March 2017)

(Image Credit: Maxim Shemetov/RT)

Egypt News | Critics, Advocates & Journalists

Travel bans trap Egyptian activists in “giant prison”
  • Two prominent human rights advocates—Aida Seif al-Dawla and Azza Soliman—recently discovered they were barred from traveling in and out of Egypt as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi continues targeting civil society and human rights organizations.
  • Human rights monitors report that 217 people have been subject to travel bans between 2014 and 2016, 115 of whom are critics of the Sisi-led government.
  • Activists and journalists reported being met with deferral or radio silence when inquiring about the cause or origin of their bans, with the government denying a crackdown.

Read more:
Egypt is giant prison, activists banned from travel say” (Reuters)
Egypt imposes travel bans on human rights activists” (The Financial Times)
A Top Egyptian Human Rights Activist Banned From Travel” (AP via The New York Times)

Malaysia News | Artist-Critics

Popular Malaysian political cartoonist detained for work critical of PM
  • Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, also known as Zunar, faces charges for cartoons allegedly insulting scandal-embroiled Prime Minister Najib Razak, the latest in a series of sedition charges he faces.
  • Zunar’s work has satirized Najib’s lavish lifestyle and the scandal involving the alleged diversion of hundreds of millions of dollars from a Malaysian development fund into the PM’s personal bank account, which has led to Najib’s use of a colonial-era sedition law to quell critics’ dissent.
  • The detention came after the disruption of Zunar’s exhibition at the George Town Literary Festival, where Penang Umno Youth members stormed the festival and demanded the removal of his work.

Read more:
Malaysian cartoonist ‘Zunar’ arrested at literary festival, charged with sedition – again” (Deutsche Welle)
Malaysian political cartoonist Zunar arrested under sedition law” (Reuters)
Mob storms cartoonist Zunar’s show” (The Malay Mail)

(Image Credit: Zunar, via Deutsche Welle)

Turkey News | Advocates & Critics

Turkey halts activities of 370 NGOs as “purge” continues
  • Following the failed coup attempt of July 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has banned the activities of hundreds of organizations, including human rights and children’s organizations, arrested opposition lawmakers, and shuttered more than 100 media organizations on charges of collusion with terrorists.
  • Of the suspended, 153 were allegedly connected to U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen (whom Erdogan has accused of masterminding the coup), 190 with Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), 19 to far-left militant group DHKP-C, and 8 to the Islamic State.
  • More than 100,000 in the military, police, political administration, journalism, and academia have lost their jobs and tens of thousands have been arrested, prompting condemnation from human rights monitors and warnings from foreign governments.

Read more:
Turkey halts activities of 370 groups as purge widens” (Reuters)
Erdogan Renews Putsch Purge With Targets in Media, Academia” (Bloomberg)
Erdogan’s ‘One-Man Regime’ Sacks 10,000, Closes Kurdish Media” (teleSUR English)

Zimbabwe News | Political Dissidents

Police violently break up protest against Mugabe government in Harare as anger swells
  • Peaceful protesters and journalists were attacked with batons during a demonstration against President Robert Mugabe’s handling of the economy in Zimbabwe.
  • Protesters have been rallying against the government’s economic policies, with ire having ballooned over proposals to introduce local bank notes into the economy.
  • Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party also expelled nine senior leaders, including four war veterans linked to a statement denouncing him.

Read more:
Zimbabwe police use batons to break up anti-government protest” (Reuters)
Zimbabwe police violently break up anti-Mugabe protests” (Al Jazeera)
Zimbabwe’s Mugabe faces rising tide of protest” (AP via News24)

(Image Credit: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

ClimateWatch | Turkey

ClimateWatch
Turkey’s “Purge”

The recent attempted coup by a faction within Turkey’s military has left the country in the throes of uncertainty, further increasing citizens’ and human rights watchdogs’ already pronounced concerns about the future of civil liberties in Turkey. Ground zero for the attempted overthrow of the government were Ankara and Istanbul, home to journalists overrun on the air by military forces and ordinary citizens called into the streets by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan via FaceTime.

Daylight illuminated the deaths of nearly 300, the wounds of the 1,400 injured, and the beginning of a so-called “purge” that has further endangered groups already vulnerable under Erdogan’s regime: political critics, journalists, and intellectuals. Women, too, found themselves targeted amidst the instability, and Turkish Kurds worry that the aftermath will further heighten anti-Kurd sentiment.

But the coup attempt and retaliation are only the latest in Turkey’s security woes. Terrorist attacks in Istanbul and Ankara, conflict with Kurdish militants and pro-Kurd advocates, ongoing intimidation and blackouts of journalists and political dissidents, and a regional refugee crisis have upended the tenuous stability in the country secured through a 2013 ceasefire with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). While the restoration of Erdogan’s government was seen as a victory for democracy, Turks and observers alike fear what measures Erdogan, already intolerant of dissent, will take in its wake.

Here is a look at coverage of the destabilizing security situation for at-risk communities in Turkey: Continue reading ClimateWatch | Turkey

Egypt News | Political Critics

Egyptian government limiting movement rights of critics
  • Nearly 500 journalists, activists, and advocates have been deported from Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s inauguration in 2013 for having criticized the government, according to one civil rights group.
  • Critics of Sisi, the judiciary, and other government powers have been subjected to travel restrictions, limiting their movement in and out of the country.
  • Those subject to travel bans often don’t find out about their status until at airports, with the requirement of a judicial order only infrequently being met.

Read more:
Egypt’s Latest Tactic Against Critics: Block Their Movements, or Deport Them” (The New York Times)
Human rights lawyer Amin barred from traveling to Beirut” (Daily News Egypt)
Egypt: Travel Ban on Women’s Rights Leader” (Human Rights Watch, June 2016)

Zimbabwe News | Political Dissidents

Largest protests in years bubble up in Zimbabwe as anger over economy grows
  • Protests against government corruption, unpaid salaries, and a generally failing economy led to a general strike and street protests, prompting a government response that included violent attacks on and intimidation of citizens.
  • A prominent religious leader who called for the strike was arrested then released on technicality after having been charged with inciting public violence and later with conspiring to overthrow the government.
  • The protests have been the largest challenge in a decade to the rule of President Robert Mugabe, who has held power in the country since its independence from Britain in 1980.

Read more:
Zimbabweans suffer ‘savage’ police abuse as anti-Mugabe movement grows” (Reuters)
Zimbabwe shutdown: What is behind the protests?” (BBC)
Zimbabwe Court Frees Pastor Detained Over Protests Against Mugabe” (The New York Times)

(Image Credit: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters)

Bahrain News | Shiite Dissidents

Bahrain strips Shiite leader of citizenship as anti-dissident campaign continues
  • The Interior Ministry stripped Ayatollah Sheikh Isa Qassim, a prominent Shiite cleric, of Bahraini citizenship, stirring protest among the Gulf country’s Shiite majority.
  • The denaturalization took place soon after a court ordered the suspension of Bahrain’s main opposition group, Al-Wefaq, which has led pro-democracy protests in the country since 2011.
  • The Sunni-led government has accused Shiite leaders of promoting foreign interests (namely Iran’s) and fomenting sectarian division and extremism in the country, leading to their denaturalization and expulsion.

Read more:
Bahrain strips Sheikh Isa Qassim of nationality” (Al Jazeera)
Bahrain’s Sunni Rulers Revoke Citizenship of Top Shiite Cleric” (The New York Times)
Bahrain strips top Shi’ite Muslim cleric of citizenship” (Reuters)

(Image Credit: AP via Al Jazeera)

Eritrea Feature | Eritreans

25 Years of Independence and Suppression in Eritrea

As it celebrates the 25th anniversary of the overthrow of Ethiopian rule, Eritrea continues to hemorrhage citizens under one-party, anti-democratic rule. Indefinite military conscription, mobility restrictions, and the absence of civil liberties have greatly diminished prospects for Eritreans, driving youth from the country in droves and into trans-Mediterranean trafficking networks in which thousands have died. Some estimates put the emigration rate at 5,000 people per month, second only to Syrians in contributing to the swelling of the Mediterranean migration crisis in 2015.

The Eritrean government has been particularly unfriendly to journalists and other writers, who have faced high insecurity following the 2001 roundup of independent newspaper editors in a push by the Eritrean president to crack down on public dissent. In the diaspora, Eritreans have found themselves involuntarily bound to the government as attempts to access documents and send remittances has subjected them to taxes international monitors liken to extortion. Amidst independence celebrations, both native and diasporan Eritreans continue to work to organize an effective opposition against the presidential regime and bring about a democratic renaissance for the country’s disenfranchised citizenry.

Read:
Eritreans still denied freedom 25 years after independence” (The Guardian)
A quarter of a century after independence Eritreans still yearn for freedom” (The Conversation)
How to End the Eritrean Refugee Crisis” (The Nation, December 2015)
‘If we don’t give them a voice, no one will’: Eritrea’s forgotten journalists, still jailed after 14 years” (The Guardian, August 2015)
Outside Eritrea looking in: a diaspora that stands divided” (The Guardian, August 2015)
UN Inquiry reports gross human rights violations in Eritrea” (UNHCR, June 2015)

Watch:
25 years of independence in Eritrea: Thousands continue to flee repressive regime (France 24 English)
Eritrea: Delving into a Sealed-Off Country (Deutsche Welle, April 2015)

Follow:
Eritrea profile: Timeline (BBC)
2015 prison census: 199 journalists jailed worldwide (The Committee to Protect Journalists, December 2015)

Connect:
Eritrean Solidarity Movement for National Salvation (Simret)

(Image Credit: Boris Roessler/EPA, via The Guardian)

Vietnam News | Political Dissidents

Political activists muzzled in Vietnam during visit by President Obama
  • Several activists reported having been detained or otherwise barred from meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama during his visit to Hanoi.
  • President Obama met with a group of civil society leaders and spoke to ongoing concerns over the suppression of free expression and assembly in the country.
  • International human rights groups estimate more than 100 political prisoners languish in Vietnamese prisons, while most of the more than 100 who attempted to run as independents in recent elections were excluded from the ballot.

Read more:
As Obama Presses Vietnam on Rights, Activists Are Barred From Meeting” (The New York Times)
Obama prods Vietnam on rights after activists stopped from meeting him” (Reuters)
In shadow of Obama’s visit, Vietnam cracked down on protests over dead fish” (The Washington Post)

(Image Credit: Kham/Reuters, via The Washington Post)

Gambia News | Women Dissidents

Six women charged as Gambian authorities crack down on growing dissent
  • The six were among at least 25 arrested in Banjul for protesting the prosecution of some 45 members of the United Democratic Party (UDP).
  • As demonstrations have continued calling for electoral reforms, protests increased following the death of UDP leader Solo Sandeng in police custody.
  • Public demonstration is rare in Gambia, where President Yahya Jammeh has taken a zero tolerance approach to dissent since taking power in 1994.

Read more:
Gambia charges six women for protesting trial of opposition figures” (Reuters)
Fifty-five Gambia UDP opposition members arrested in government crackdown, says party executive” (Radio France Internationale)
Protests signal serious challenge to Gambia’s ‘billion-year’ president” (Global Voices via The Guardian)

(Image Credit: SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)